MDOT has plans to reconstruct the I-75 business loop from Woodward Avenue to I-75.

MDOT has plans to reconstruct the I-75 business loop from Woodward Avenue to I-75.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

MDOT to keep Square Lake ramp to eastbound I-75 in Bloomfield Township

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 1, 2023


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP— An outcry of concern from Bloomfield Township residents has prompted the Michigan Department of Transportation to keep the Square Lake Road ramp to the eastbound Interstate 75 business loop.

MDOT’s Oakland Transportation Service Center Manager Lori Swanson said MDOT was originally looking at removing the Square Lake Road ramp to eastbound I-75 business loop due to safety concerns while it works to rebuild the I-75 business loop — which comprises Square Lake Road, from Woodward Avenue to I-75 in Bloomfield Township.

Swanson said there is a big speed differential in the area and short-weave merge lanes.

“People on the business loop are at 70 mph, and then you have this ramp traffic trying to merge all the way over to the left to go on northbound 75, and they are doing 50 mph at the most,” Swanson said.

For a safe weaving movement, MDOT’s standards say there should be a minimum weaving distance of 1,000 feet, but the existing weaving distance in that location is approximately half of what it should be, Swanson noted.

“The volume of traffic that uses that ramp is also pretty low, so we were thinking maybe we could just remove it — there’s ramps down at Adams and M-59 — but when we went to get some public comments and see what people were thinking, it did not go over well,” she said.

Bloomfield Township Supervisor Dani Walsh said hundreds of residents, along with township and state officials, showed up to MDOT’s Feb. 27 public meeting on the project to object to the removal of the ramp.

“People were livid,” Walsh said. “People left, right, center, everybody wants better roads, so if something is going to make our roads worse, they are going to come out in force and tell you to stop.”

Business owners shared how the ramp removal would negatively impact their business, community members argued it would increase traffic in their neighborhoods, and both Bloomfield Township Police Chief James Gallagher and Fire Chief John LeRoy expressed their concerns about the increased response times to incidents and proposed routes that would take public safety 2 miles out of the township’s jurisdiction to get to the highway.

“I said, ‘you may see a tiny little ramp, but this is a major feed for public safety to get access in the area, for buses and for all of the people that moved to that area because of the quick access onto the expressway,” Walsh explained. “We also have new commercial buildings going up in our neighboring communities that are going to bring more traffic to that ramp, and you cannot put that onto our main roads — because a lot of the detour was aiming toward Square Lake, doing large truck u-turns on those Michigan lefts, which of course, Square Lake is already a pretty big delayed area, so we didn’t want to add more trucks because then my public safety would have an even harder time getting to accidents or issues in the area.”

Since then, MDOT has decided to keep the ramp, opting instead to shift it a bit west, according to Swanson.

“People had thought we had already made up our minds that we were going to do this, but we were going out for public comment to find out what the thoughts were, and if they didn’t like it, we would take it back and do exactly what we did and put our thinking caps back on and see how we could make it work. That is what we did.”

The new plan is for MDOT to shift two ramps — the ramp from Square Lake to the I-75 business loop, as well as the ramp from the I-75 business loop to Square Lake — west toward Opdyke to get the optimal 1,000 feet of weave distance under MDOT’s standards.

“All the same movements will be there, they will just be shifted slightly to the west, so, hopefully, everyone will be happy and it will improve the safety out there,” Swanson said.

The project also includes replacing the pavement, and improving storm sewers, the ramp at the Opdyke Road interchange and safety.

Officials said the change in plans will cost MDOT an extra $2 million-$3 million.

“We were able to juggle some things and make it work on our end,” Swanson explained.

MDOT officials said the project is slated to go out for bid in October and construction will likely start in March of 2024.

“Construction will just be one season, so we will be done by November of 2024,” said Swanson.

Walsh said the collaboration shows how residents, municipal leaders, legislators and organizations can work together to make a difference.

“When we do get together to work, we are working together to find a better solution,” she said. “I don’t think MDOT gets enough credit for that. While we are always frustrated when things catch us off guard, the nice thing is they will work with you, and I appreciate that. … They really have stepped up to work with us.”

For more information on the project, call MDOT at (517) 335-4381 or Bloomfield Township at (248) 433-7700.